BEND, Ore. – A plan to remove the ovaries of 100 wild horses has prompted backlash from a nonprofit horse group.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management Burns District said it plans to go forward with a research effort that involves three methods of surgically sterilizing wild mares, some of them pregnant, the Bend Bulletin reported.
The Bureau of Land Management is working with the Oregon State University on the project, which could help it determine whether those procedures could be used on wild horses in the future. The federal agency has an estimated 67,000 wild horses and burros on public lands in 10 Western states, a population of twice what the agency considers healthy for the animals and rangeland.
The agency said in a news release that it hopes to “manage healthy horses on healthy rangelands” by restricting the animals’ reproduction.
But the American Wild Horse Prevention Campaign has denounced the surgeries as dangerous and unnecessary. Wild animals don’t receive much post-surgical care, possibly leading to pain, infection, bleeding and serious complications, the group said.
“It’s a bad idea,” campaign director Suzanne Roy said. “None of this is practical; none of this is necessary.”
Roy argued that an existing birth control vaccine is a simpler and safer solution.
The Bureau of Land Management said it decided to perform surgeries because the longer-lasting vaccine isn’t very effective and regularly administering it by dart or bait trapping is not practical in many areas.
The public has 30 days to appeal the decision.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.